Author Interview - Irene Sardanis
Author I draw inspiration from: Pat Schneider. I met her first on page with her book, Writing Alone and with Others. She described her mother in ways I could identify with. The abuse Pat suffered from her mother was emotional. Mine was physical and emotional. When I met Pat at a writer’s workshop in New York several years ago, I told her how much I valued her writing about her mother’s behavior. I hadn’t read many authors at that time who had courage to write about that subject. “You’re not alone,” she said. “There are more of us out there in the world than you can ever imagine.” Hearing from Pat there were others with similar stories inspired me to write mine.
Favorite place to read a book: Any quiet place with few distractions. I’d probably say my favorite place to read any book is my local library. There is something holy being in a place surrounded by a lot of books.The people reading around me give me a feeling of being in a shared sacred place, like a church, with all of us praying in our own way. Another place I love reading is on a plane going from San Francisco to New York, or to Europe.
Book character I’d like to be stuck in an elevator with: This is embarrassing, but the first one that came to me was Zorba the Greek. He’s a scoundrel for sure, a heart-breaker, but I love the guy’s spirit, his I don’t-give-a-damn what people think attitude. He’d be telling me about his travels, his latest conquests, the great food and drink he had, and I’d be lapping it all up with a spoon. I’d have to fight off his advances, but I’d love every minute of it.
The moment I knew I wanted to become a writer: It was after my personal essay, "The Tree", was published in Psychotherapy Networker Magazine. I’d sent the piece out for submission to countless magazines and either got rejected or no response. It was my first published piece and I couldn’t believe it. On my answering machine was something like, “This is Katy Butler. I’m the editor for Psychotherapy Networker. I read your story twice and I cried twice.” OMG. I must have played that message a dozen times. That was one of the times I had a glimpse of maybe I could become a writer, to tell the rest of my story.
Hardback, paperback, ebook or audio book. Which do I prefer: Some and all of the above. I like the feel of the hardback in my hands. If I’m traveling, I like an ebook. In my car, I have an audio book. Honey, I’ll take the written word in any form, just as long as it holds my interest.
The last book I read: The Tender Bar, by J. R. Moehringer. The author grabbed me right from the first page. His problem was an absent, unavailable father. The boy’s uncle manages a local bar and that place becomes a character in itself, with the men he meets there symbolically become the father figure he yearns for. This is beautiful writing that held my interest from the beginning and kept me turning the page to see what happens.
Pen, paper, or computer. Which do I prefer? I admire the writers who use their laptops. In writing classes, I like pen and paper to scribble on. My thought on that is that there is something about the hand to paper that connects me to the story in a more intimate way than on computer. But when it comes to revision and editing, I use the computer.
The book character I think I’d be best friends with: Cinderella. She and I share similar stories. We both identify with stories of abuse and neglect. Cinderella and I are risk-takers and find a way to get to the ball, meet the prince and trust our Fairy Godmother to guide us out of the dungeon to the castle.
If I wasn’t an author, what would I be? If I wasn’t an author, I’d like to be a jazz vocalist. My favorite jazz singers are Carmen McCrae, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Etta James. They’re the ones who deliver the song like a story and hold the audience in the palm of their hands. Just listen to Billie or Etta sing, “Good Morning Heartache,” and you get the idea of what a great blues singer sounds like.
Favorite decade in fashion history: Probably the sixties because there was an anything-goes, casual kinda quality to it. I’m probably the least trendy fashion person you’ll ever meet. Talk to my sister, Teddy, who goes to Saks Fifth Avenue department store the way we go to Peet’s for coffee. She is always ahead of the trend.
Place I’d most like to travel: All countries are like eye-candy for me. I want to visit them all, but the one that calls to me these days is Thailand. Everyone who has been there speaks of the simplicity of life there, the spirituality, the tasty, inexpensive food and the people. All of those things call me.
My signature drink: A margarita on ice. One sip, and I am transported to someplace in Mexico, like Puerto Vallarta or Cabo with a view of the ocean in front of my table. Excuse me, but my mouth is starting to water.
My favorite artist: Frida Kahlo. No matter how many of Frida’s paintings I’ve seen, I am in awe of her truth and authenticity on canvas. As an avid reader, I value the raw, honest writing of an author. Well, that’s Frida as a painter. There she is without hiding, in flaming technicolor without frills or fancy strokes. I bow to her as an artist, as a courageous woman. Que mujer. What a dame.
Number one on my bucket list: To launch my book Out of the Bronx, but especially to visit the Bronx again, because that’s where my story started. If I can go back there and face my fear and terror about that place, I can go anywhere.
Anything else you'd like to add: I’d just like to encourage anyone with a story like mine to tell it. There’s such a lot of fear I had to tell mine. Every writer I know has those critics, those inner voices that hold us back. We need to do battle with those demon voices every time we sit down to write. I hope my book would inspire any writer who is afraid to write their story to just do it. Take classes. Go to conferences. Get a coach. You can do it. Jump onto that page, write your story and just do it.